Today’s policy changes by the Veteran’s HealthAdministration aimed at facilitating HIV testing are a welcome step forward inmaking HIV testing a routine part of medical care, an effort long advocated bythe San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs announced todaythat effective immediately HIV testing will be provided to all patients as partof routine medical care if they consent to it, not just to those withidentified risk factors. In addition, VHA facilities will only require verbalconsent for HIV testing, reversing a policy that required written informedconsent and scripted test counseling.
“I commend the VA for implementing these critical policychanges,” said Mark Cloutier, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “Throughits actions, the VA is helping to change attitudes about the importance of routinetesting for HIV in the United States.”
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has long advocated forexpanded HIV screening and for removing barriers to HIV testing as crucialelements to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Foundation recently adopted astrategic goal of ensuring that everyone in San Francisco between the ages of13 and 64 know their current HIV status, as part of an effort to radicallyreduce the number of new HIV infections in the city by 2015.
The new VA policies are now in line with recommendations bythe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that eliminated bothpre-test counseling and written consent. In 2006, the CDC recommended thatmedical facilities provide HIV testing for adults, adolescents and pregnantwomen ages 13 to 64. The revised recommendations sought to address theestimated 25 percent of Americans who are unaware that they are HIV positive.
For more information about the new VA guidelines, go to: http://www.hiv.va.gov/vahiv?page=pt-home
The best way to fight HIV is to know your status. A simple test can determine if you are infected with the virus.
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